Guwahati, Monday, November 15, 2010
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Slow progress of NE projects worries Centre
R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Nov 14 – Concerned at the slow progress of implementation of various Central sector projects in the North East region, particularly Assam, the Government of India is planning a thorough review of all such projects later this month.

 Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that road communication would be one of the key issues to be reviewed by the Government of India. Sources pointed out that the progress of construction of the East West Corridor remained very slow in Assam and other parts of the North East region due to various reasons. The project hit a major road block in North Cachar Hills district for quite some time because of the activities of the militants belonging to the Black Widow group. Though the situation has improved now after the militant group surrendered arms to come forward for talks, the progress has not yet been satisfactory.

Sources said that in other parts of Assam also, the progress of construction of the East West Corridor remained slow because of various reasons including delay in land acquisition and other local problems and there have been allegations of extortion demands by militants slowing down the progress in some parts of the state.

Official sources said that the projects of the Railways would be the second major issue to be reviewed by the Government of India. Like the East West Corridor, the Gauge conversion project from Lumding to Silchar slowed down considerably in the last few years because of frequent attacks by the militants in NC Hills. However, the situation has now improved and the work is going ahead. But it is unlikely that the Railways would be able to make up the time lost in the last few years. Moreover, though there is no major threat from militants as of now, the administration of NC Hills is not in a position to provide adequate security to the persons working on the projects because of shortage of forces and personnel of the Territorial Army have been engaged in guarding the project sites.

Sources revealed that the other Railway projects including the progress of the construction of the Bogibeel bridge over the river Brahmaputra will be reviewed to ensure that the project is completed as soon as possible.

The Government of India is also planning to review the food stock position in the North East region to ensure that all the states of the region have adequate food stock in case of any natural calamity, while, the stock position of the petroleum products will also be reviewed thoroughly. Sources pointed out that having adequate stock of essential items and POL products is a must to deal with any eventuality and the need for having adequate stock in North East is even more than other parts of the country as the region is connected to the rest of the country only by a 22 kilometre wide chicken neck.

Sources said that the Union Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrashekhar is scheduled to visit Assam along with a team of senior officials of the concerned departments later this month to review the progress of the central projects. However, there is possibility of the meeting being held in Delhi also and the final decision is yet to be taken.

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